New aviation regulation on the use of unmanned aircraft and model aircraft

10/9/15, 8:00 AM

Finland has today introduced one of the most liberal aviation regulations in the world as regards the use of unmanned aircraft and flying models. The level of regulation depends on how the device is used. The requirements for model aircraft used for recreational purposes are significantly lighter than those for remotely piloted aircraft used professionally. On the other hand, professional operators may legally carry out such tasks that are not allowed for recreational flyers.

”Our brand new regulation on the use of unmanned aircraft is the most liberal in Europe, if not in the whole world. Right from the beginning, our goal has been to achieve as light a level of regulation as possible, and this has succeeded excellently in my opinion. The regulation leaves room for experiments and allows for the development of new business activities”, says Kari Wihlman, Director General at Trafi. ”We have wanted to pave the way for full-scale benefits to be gained from this new segment of aviation, and create opportunities for experimentation. It is particularly through tests and experiments that business activities can develop further.”

Safety remains at the forefront

Even if the new regulation is light and broad, it contains many essential requirements to ensure safety. The approach is risk-based and performance-based. Risks associated with the operations are identified, assessed and mitigated mainly through the operators’ own risk management procedures. The administrative burden and fees for official services are kept at a minimum, which makes it easy to launch new operations.

”Whether the device is a remotely piloted aircraft or a flying model, the person controlling it must always make sure that the flight does not compromise the safety of others or hinder rescue operations or other activities by authorities, for example. It is extremely important for the image of the whole branch that the operators adopt a responsible safety culture right from the start”, says Chief Adviser Jukka Hannola.

When a remotely piloted aircraft or model aircraft is used for photographing, it is good to remember that any provisions on e.g. the inviolability of domicile, protection of privacy, immaterial rights, Finland's territorial surveillance and imperilment also apply to such operations, even if there are no specific provisions on this in the aviation regulation.

Everyone must respect prohibited areas and restricted areas

Regulations on areas where aviation is prohibited or restricted must be complied with in all types of aviation, including remotely piloted aircraft and model aircraft.

Activities that pose a hazard to flight safety or impede the flow of air traffic are always prohibited. ”By separate agreement with the air traffic control unit, however, professional operators of remotely piloted aircraft may also work near airports”, specifies Hannola.

Further information

Regulation OPS M1-32

Frequently asked questions

Areas where aviation is prohibited

Areas where aviation is restricted

Jukka Hannola, Chief Adviser, jukka.hannola (at), tel. +358 29 534 7063
Samuli Vuokila, Chief Adviser, samuli.vuokila (at), tel. +358 29 534 6135